Senate Hearing on SUD, New PRF Appeals Process to be Established


In discussing the impact of SUD on rural communities at Tuesday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on substance use, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) pointed toward Kansas’ use of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) to localize care and increase SUD services. Dr. Delphin-Rittmon voiced her support for the wraparound services provided by CCBHCs, adding that such services can better connect those with SUD with the supports necessary to fuel recovery.

Main Stories:

  • Senate HELP Committee Discusses Substance Use, Fentanyl, and Opioid Crises
  • Provider Relief Fund Recoupment Appeals Process
  • Overdose Death Data Shows Striking Disparities in Minority Groups
  • CMS Proposes Rule to Promote Non-discrimination in Health Plans

Senate HELP Committee Discusses Substance Use, Fentanyl, and Opioid Crises

This week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) held a hearing (summary) centered around the increasing number of fentanyl-related overdoses in the U.S. The discussion surrounded substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, and supply side reduction efforts. There was bipartisan support emerging for solutions to expand access to education programs for youth on the dangers of substance use. Witnesses, consisting exclusively of Administration officials, largely called for evidence-based services to combat opioid use disorder.

Provider Relief Fund Recoupment Appeals Process

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will establish a new dispute and appeals process for recipients of Provider Relief Funds (PRF), disbursed as part of the COVID-19 relief package passed in 2020. Providers who received more than $10,000 are required to report to HHS how the funds were used for expenses or losses due to the pandemic. This new process will be open to PRF recipients who wish to contest recoupment or challenge repayment decisions.

Overdose Death Data Shows Striking Disparities in Minority Groups

A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data taken from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS). Researchers found significant disparities in overdose deaths among non-Hispanic Black and Native American populations. Between 2019 and 2020, the United States experienced a 30% increase in overdose deaths, while Black and Native American communities faced significant increases above the national average, as high as 44% and 39% respectively. The study also explored contributing factors such as socioeconomic status, finding overdose deaths among Black Americans to be the highest in communities facing greater income inequality.

CMS Proposes Rule to Promote Non-discrimination in Health Plans

HHS announced this week a proposed rule to implement non-discrimination provisions (on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability”) of the Affordable Care Act. HHS is proposing to adopt provisions requiring covered entities to take steps to provide meaningful access to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals. Further, the proposed rules would require covered entities to ensure communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communication with others, incompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design, include increased access to electronic and information technology (IT) programs as well as telehealth services. The proposed rule would also expand protection from discrimination on the basis of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity.


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CCBHC Briefing on the Hill. Yesterday, the National Council held a virtual Congressional briefing to educate Congressional staff on the impact of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), after the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (analysis), which expanded the CCBHC demonstration program nationwide. A panel of experts shared information on the attributes of a CCBHC, the benefits of the model, and how states can apply to join the demonstration program.

House Passes Legislation to Extend Telehealth Flexibilities for Two Years. The House passed legislation, 416-12, to extend certain COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities past the end of the public health emergency (PHE). The Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act provides an extension of several key Medicare flexibilities, including coverage of audio-only telehealth services, waiving in-person requirements for behavioral health services, as well as reimbursement for qualified health centers, among others, through December 31, 2024.

By Mollie Laird